For generations, the backpack has been the go-to means of hauling gear and clothing into vehicle-free stretches of the outdoors. Wheeled man-trailers are trying hard to catch up, though. In the past few years, we've covered the Monowalker and Armadillo trailers and have seen one or two similar designs rolling through crowdfunding and design sites. The Trailpod is yet another option, utilizing a unique triple-wheel, floating-axle construction to roll your provisions over sand, mud, grass and anything else that gets in your way.
A little bit rolled suitcase, a little bit all-terrain personal trailer, the Trailpod was developed as a cooperative effort between London design consultancy Therefore, which has experience with crowdfunded projects like GravityLights, and HandiWorld Ltd. The latter's Camba wheel technology separates the Trailpod from personal trailers like the Monowalker and Armadillo, which feature more traditional wheel systems adapted to the task of off-road gear hauling. The Camba design is meant to be optimized for all-terrain hauling and features sharply angled wheels and moving independent axles. This wheel system is also featured on the HandiMoova all-terrain trolley.
"Camba's novel suspension combines a hemispherical wheel with a floating independent axle system," Trailpod designers explain on the Indiegogo campaign. "The large footprint of the hemispherical wheel spreads the load so they don’t sink or dig into soft surfaces. The floating axle allows the wheel to overcome obstacles that smaller fixed axles fail to manage."
It's a design that is hard to believe in – especially for go-anywhere, all-terrain use –without actually trying it. But the design team swears it works, and not only on simple surfaces like asphalt, but on pretty much everything that you could encounter "out there" – sand, mud, gravel, grass, curbs and stairs.
While the HandiMoova trolley uses a more conventional two-wheel dolly configuration, the Trailpod has a three-wheel setup to keep it balanced and rolling, preventing the kind of tipping and spinout that could cause a single- or double-wheel bag to fall or drag to a stop. The rotating grab handle helps the user get a comfortable grip. Upon arrival, that handle folds out of the way, and the Trailpod doubles as a seat or cupholder.
If you're wondering why an all-terrain design features smooth wheels, we'd say you have a very valid question, and one that Trailpod answers by saying that the design is a prototype. It plans to add more rugged, treaded wheels before production. If we were considering investing in the product, we'd prefer to see the final wheel design before doing so, though.
Between the triple-wheeled base and the cup/person-supporting top, the Trailpod has a tri-rib exoskeleton designed to accommodate various clip-in bags and accessories. Overall, it offers 60 liters (3,661 cu in) of storage and comes with an insulated soft cooler that also works as a general storage bag, a general purpose bag with pockets for mobile electronics, and storage netting for additional storage space and separation. Assuming the project gets off the ground, Trailpod's designers will add more bags and accessories in the future.
The Trailpod's exoskeleton is made from impact-resistant glass fiber-reinforced polymer and its wheels from a PU polymer foam. The storage bags are 600D polyester double-coated with PU and closed with water-resistant zippers. The metal hardware is marine-grade stainless steel. The complete system weighs 8.8 lb (4 kg) empty and measures 26 x 18 in (67 x 45 cm, H x W with handle folded down). The exoskeleton can compact down to 12 inches (30 cm) in width for transport and storage.
Based on its open, water-resistant-only design, the Trailpod seems best-suited to short, simple trips. It'd be useful for activities like festivals, beach days, car camping and picnics, but might leave you high and dry – er, wet – on a multi-day backpacking trip.
Trailpod is trying to raise money to finish development and begin production. It launched an Indiegogo campaign on Monday and is offering the Trailpod kit at pledge levels of US$149 and up, $100 off the estimated retail price of $249. If its campaign and development move along as planned, shipping (free in the US and UK) will begin in August 2016.
Check out the video pitch below for more.